When we think of the word Grace or being Graceful, we might have associations of the posture’s of a swan or a ballerina or we might think of royalty like the princess of Monaco. Other words for Grace might be elegance or poise. “Grace” comes from the Latin word “gratia”, which means “God’s favour”, which is interpreted to“impossibly flawless”.
Grace is a quality I am consistently trying to incorporate into all area’s of my life. I believe that with practicing higher minded ways of communicating with others and how we relate to the self and others, we will have more access to acquiring Grace.
In Dr. David Hawkins most recognized publication “Power VS. Force – The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior” Hawkins extrapolates a hierarchical model of personality development. Hawkins explains that the personality can be described in a scoring system which ranges from 0 to 1000.
Hawkins’ theory that moving upward into higher states of consciousness is the only way to make meaningful progress in one’s life. Unfortunately, the average individual only moves up 5 points in their entire lifetime.
Here are the energy levels outlined by David Hawkins:
- 20: Shame
- 30: Guilt
- 50: Apathy
- 75: Grief
- 100: Fear
- 125: Desire
- 150: Anger
- 175: Pride
- 200: Courage
- 250: Neutrality
- 310: Willingness
- 350: Acceptance
- 400: Reason
- 500: Love
- 540: Joy
- 600: Peace
- 700-1000: Enlightenment
“On our scale of consciousness, there are two critical points that allow for major advancement. The first is at 200, the initial level of empowerment: Here, the willingness to stop blaming and accept responsibility for one’s own actions, feelings, and beliefs arises – as long as cause and responsibility are projected outside of oneself, one will remain in the powerless mode of victimhood.
The second is at the 500 level, which is reached by accepting love and nonjudgemental forgiveness as a lifestyle, exercising unconditional kindness to all persons, things, and events without exception.” (Hawkins 2002, 238).
So we ask ourselves, how do we move from anger, and pride into acceptance, and forgiveness? How can we start taking responsibility and have more self awareness?
With acquiring qualities of grace and humility and empathy, we can begin to move from the emotions of fear and anger into acceptance and forgiveness.
We can start first looking at how we react in situations rather than responding.
In these situations, how we choose to “master the moment” can make the difference between proactive versus reactive, and can be the beginning of acquiring graceful ways of being.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Victor Frankl
If you struggle with certain aspects of yourself, consider finding your ‘space’ to respond, rather than reflexively react, with these steps:
Consider the person you wish to be: Think about the person you would like to be, especially in the areas in which you struggle. For instance, you might not like your tendency to become quickly frustrated in difficult situations, wanting instead to be a patient person. Take the time to develop a clear vision of this more ideal version of yourself.
Where do your reactions stem from?: There is a reason that you react as you do. It can be very helpful to understand your reactions, and perhaps where they stemmed from. For example, you might be impatient because you imagine failing to fix problems, and so you experience great anxiety. You might also realize that your parents tended to be critical, leaving you to believe that you’re not capable.
Be mindful of the outcome of your reactions: Pay attention to the results of your reactions. By associating negative consequences to your awareness, you will be more motivated to change your reaction to a desired response
Construct a better response: Think about better ways to respond. Imagine doing them and the consequences of this. Also imagine what it would feel like to respond more in keeping with what you want for yourself. Continuing the example of a problem with impatience, you might envision yourself responding calmly to a problem and then moving on to find your way to an effective solution.
Learn a more compassionate approach to yourself: Because personal change takes effort and time to accomplish, it is important to support this process within yourself. Being critical or judging yourself will only undermine your efforts. So, instead, practice being patient with yourself as you would be supportive of a child or good friend who is working to develop a new skill.
How to Learn to Respond
The main thing to learn is mindfulness and the pause.
Mindfulness means watching ourselves when something happens that might normally upset us or trigger some kind of emotional reaction. Pay close attention to how our minds react.
Then pause. We don’t have to act immediately, just because we have an internal reaction. We can pause, not act, breathe. We can watch this urge to act irrationally arise, then let it go away. Sometimes that takes a few seconds, other times it means we should remove ourselves from the situation and let ourselves cool down before we respond.
Watch the reaction go away.
We can go further to notice what might be happening for the other person? Why they might be behaving the way they are and with compassion we move into the beautiful quality of empathy
Empathy is the natural ability to sense and understand the emotions and experiences of others. It is a gift we all have. Like other gifts, empathy is an untapped resource waiting to be engaged.
Now consider what the most intelligent, compassionate response might be. What can we do that will help our relationship, teach, build a better team or partnership, make the situation better, calm everyone down, including ourselves.
At first, you might mess up. But in time, you’ll learn to watch this reaction, and you’ll get better at the pause. Don’t worry if you mess up — just resolve to be more mindful when it happens next time. Take note of what happened to trigger your reaction, and pay attention when something like that happens again.
Be mindful, pause, then consider a thoughtful, compassionate response.
And keep practicing.